Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Renegade Thanksgiving with Wine

I know your type. You're the one who is so predictable about what wines you are going to serve at your Thanksgiving table. You are about as predictable as those little marshmallows you top on your sweet potatoes. Or perhaps I am giving you too much credit when I say, "wines." If I know you, it is usually just one bottle of wine. I also know that you have perused through the Family Day and Women's Circle magazines at the grocery check-out trying to figure out what wine goes with turkey. Oh what a surprise! The magazines both agree that the only wine to go with turkey is Pinot Noir. However, this year the journalist is really living on the edge as she suggest to her readers to impress their friends and family with a "fresh" wine - a Beaujolais Nouveau.

Oh wait! You're thinking. "I have seen the Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, but it was a 2009 and on sale in a grocery cart in the center of the wine aisle. I will get that instead of the 2010. It's got a little age on it ... "

Okay, listen up you silly pilgrim. Thanksgiving is about the bounty, right? Traditionally, this day was a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Today, Thanksgiving is a time to, not only celebrate our harvest, but to express thanks and gratitude for all of the special peeps and possessions in our lives.

Thanksgiving is the time to be bountiful in the foods we bring to the table (well, except Aunt Ginny's green bean mushroom soup casserole. I can never find the mushrooms). So why should we scrimp and scrooge on the wines? Don't just put one wine glass at each place setting, place two - - or even three.

Bring out the bubbles and bring out several! Bring out bubbles from France, Italy, Spain and Domestic. Bring out all of the colors of the bubbles from golden, pink and "black" (sparkling shiraz).

The turkey is willing and ready to be paired with Rosé. It's so pretty and pink and perfect for those red wine lovers who are seeking a lighter version. In Walla Walla we have rosé produced from Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, and Sangiovese. And speaking of Sangiovese, the sage, thyme, onion, and sausage in your turkey dressing is made for Sangiovese.

Come on live a little, bring a bottle of Walla Walla Merlot to the kitchen and make a reduction sauce out of it that you can later toss in the cranberry compote or even the wild mushroom gravy. What you say? You make a cranberry jelly and then mold it in the shape of a can? Well, drizzle a bit of cooled Merlot redux over the jelly and you won't be sorry. And while you are in the kitchen making a reduction sauce, be sure and pour a glass for the chef. You'll need it when your least favorite cousin's girlfriend and her mother show up uninvited.

Alright! So the magazine says you need Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving, but why stop at just one bottle. Explore the world of Pinot Noir and grab a couple of bottles from different regions.

A bottle of Riesling or even Gewürztraminer can take you from the turkey to the pumpkin pie depending if the wine is dry or off-dry. An acidic white wine will cut the fat on the palate from the deep-fried turkey, while the off-dry will make for a yummy accompaniment with the pumpkin pie or gingerbread. Explore some other whites as well, such as Viognier or blends. Chardonnay will pair well with a smoked turkey and again, add a little Chardonnay to the broth when making gravy.

Bring out the "Stickies" (late harvest and ice wines) and Ports to finish the meal. And while you are at it, bring out some cigars from the humidor, as well. Hey, why not? Cigars are about the most civilized thing to smoking the peace pipe. And my point for this rant?

Break from the one bottle of Pinot Noir tradition and be a renegade. Embark on a quest from the norm like the original pilgrims. Pilgrims Priscilla and John Alden didn't have fried onions from a can to put on a green bean casserole nor did they have marshmallows to put on the sweet tubers at the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. Through the years these recipes have been published in newspapers and magazines and have become a big part of family traditions. These casseroles are a symbol of our bounty. If you are an expert, or even a novice lover of the grape, make wines another symbol of your bounty.

Crush happens in the fall and what a perfect time to celebrate the end of wine country's harvest with wine at Thanksgiving. Cheers!

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